In the early days of computer-aided design (CAD), designers were limited to 2D drafting. Today, though, CAD software has come a long way and now allows users to work in 3D, attach extensive amounts of data to various design elements, and provide clients with a much more detailed depiction of their project.
CAD has been further revolutionized by the growing popularity of virtual reality (VR). Many designers have started incorporating VR technology into their design processes, as well as how they show designs to clients, bringing their designs to life.
Let’s dig into the benefits of VR in the CAD space, as well as how it’s changing the way designers communicate with clients.
Microsol forum user, Herbo, uses Enscape within Revit to show off designs in virtual reality. Image source Microsol Resources.
Bridging Realities: The Impact of Virtual Reality on CAD Visualization
VR introduces users to a 3D environment and allows them to interact with various objects and scenarios. When it comes to CAD, VR enables designers and clients to visualize and manipulate designs, creating a more intuitive experience and helping clients to see more accurately how the project will turn out.
For example, architects and designers can leverage virtual reality and allow clients to “walk through” a particular space and experience its scale, aesthetics, and overall functionality.
The Benefits of Integrating VR into CAD Workflows
Designers and clients alike can benefit in numerous ways from the integration of VR into computer-aided design workflows. The following are some of the greatest advantages this new technology offers:
Immersive visualization experience. The incorporation of VR into CAD workflows allows both designers and clients to have an immersive experience when reviewing the project. When designers introduce clients to the project, they can walk through the space to get a clear idea of the finished project.
This more immersive experience empowers clients and helps them to clarify what they like and dislike. It gives them a point of reference if they need to express concerns or explain how they want something to be changed or improved, as well.
More efficient design processes. With help from VR technology and 3D CAD processes, designers can work more efficiently when developing projects for clients. Because designers can speed up their workflows, clients can also check on the project and see progress sooner. Then, if the client notices a problem or sees that they want something changed, they can alert the designer right away and save them from wasting time on tasks that they’ll end up having to revise or redo.
Improved collaboration and communication. VR gives clients an opportunity to be more involved in the design process. By making it easier for them to visualize the project and track progress, VR makes it easier for them to collaborate with designers and communicate their likes, dislikes, concerns, etc.
The increased interactivity that comes with the use of VR in CAD also ensures that clients and designers are on the same page throughout the entire project. They can even hold virtual meetings to share feedback and discuss ideas, updates, and the like, in real-time.
Enhanced creativity. Some clients may struggle to visualize a project accurately when they’re working from 2D drawings or more basic 3D renderings. When they can enter the project virtually and put themselves inside of it, though, it’s easier for them to get creative and make suggestions or point out changes they want to make.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, designers may also find that their creativity is enhanced with VR because it makes it easy for them to instantly experiment with different design elements.
Reduced production costs. Because VR allows designers to work more efficiently, it can also reduce costs for designers and clients. Clients will appreciate that they can see progress sooner, especially if it means that they spend less overall while also being more involved in the project from start to finish.
Better focus on human-centered design. When designing projects for human use, ergonomics and user experience are critical. With help from VR, designers and clients can work together to ensure the project is human-centered and doesn’t have any sizing or positioning issues that could create more serious problems in the future. By using VR in CAD to collaborate with clients and show them the plans for their projects, architects, engineers, and others will have an easier time creating human-centered designs.
Improved safety. In addition to ergonomics and user experience, safety is paramount when creating projects and spaces for human use. Clients will appreciate the opportunity to walk through and virtually tour their projects and ensure that they are free from potential hazards.
Virtual meetings and communications with designers also give clients a chance to point out potential safety issues and make suggestions for how they can be corrected.
Increased client satisfaction. Lastly, the use of virtual reality in computer-aided design allows for greater client satisfaction overall.
When clients have a chance to virtually tour the project or put themselves in the space being created for them, it’s easier for them to share feedback and help designers ensure they’re on the right track. Greater accuracy and precision from designers, in turn, will allow for increased client satisfaction at the end of the project, too.
Shaping Tomorrow's Designs:
The Future Landscape of CAD with VR Integration
The world of CAD has transformed dramatically over the last few years, and it will only continue to evolve in the future, especially as VR technology — along with other technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) — becomes more sophisticated and more prevalent throughout the design world.
Designers who want to stay on the cutting edge must make an effort to incorporate VR into their CAD workflows (and stay informed about the latest developments within the VR, AR, and MR spaces). Especially as clients become more aware of the benefits of VR when it comes to creating and viewing designs, they will start to expect, if not demand, it.
David Spergel is an Applications Specialist at Microsol Resources and specializes in emerging visualization technology for architecture and construction industries. He provides training and consulting service, plus supports Microsol’s clients using software applications from Bluebeam Revu to McNeel’s Rhino, Chaos Group’s V-Ray, and Enscape. He is a Bluebeam Customer Success Representative, a Bluebeam Certified Instructor, and a 3D printing specialist. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering from Boston University.View All Articles